Choose the right A3 printer for your office
- — 16 October, 2009 11:20
Printer manufacturers have offered consumer A3+ printers for some time, but these have traditionally been targeted at photographers. Models like Epson's Stylus Photo R2880 provide fantastic print quality for high resolution photos and design material, but they use pigment-based inks, which last longer but are typically less accurate when printing text documents. They also lack features like document scaling and network printing, which are important for many offices.
Fortunately, those looking to produce large format marketing materials in-house now have several options to pick from. Each of these A3 printers has its advantages, but which one is best?
HP's foray into the A3+ market for small offices is a capable (but large!) printer with an Ethernet connection. At 14c per A4 page, consumables for this printer are reasonably cheap. Print quality is the Officejet 7000 Wide Format inkjet printer's key strength, making it a good option for producing presentation documents and marketing materials on glossy media.
Epson's Stylus Office T1100 A3+ inkjet printer lacks Ethernet connectivity, so it isn't as easy to share between multiple computers as some of the other printers. However it has a dedicated scaling option that allows you to easily and accurately enlarge A4 document to A3 and A3+ sizes — a big advantage over HP's A3 printer. Document print quality is commendable, particularly with text documents. At 11.3c per A4 page this printer is the cheapest to run of all the models in our round-up.
Canon’s A3 inkjet printer is by far the biggest and most expensive of the pack. It offers Ethernet, automatic duplexing, great quality photos and three paper input options. However, there are plenty of downsides too: paper input can be fickle, A4 documents look inky and print speeds are quite slow overall. At 18.6c per A4 page, the running cost isn’t exactly cheap either, though Canon’s use of pigment-based inks does justify this just a little.
The PIXMA iX7000’s key benefit is in the ability to create vibrant, glossy marketing materials with great levels of detail. We found the best results were with A4-sized photos, but A3 documents are pretty good too. The ability to automatically produce A4 and A3 double-sided printouts means you can easily cut down on paper costs. You may want to keep the iX7000 in separate room, however; it gets noisy.
Brother's MFC-6490CW offers scanning, copying and faxing, as well as A3 printing. Though it won't produce lab-quality photos, this A3+ inkjet multifunction can print text and presentation documents capably, as well as scan quickly. It offers USB, Ethernet and Wi-Fi connectivity.
However, at 18.8c per A4 page, it's certainly not the most cost-effective option. Its print resolution isn't crash hot either, failing to produce documents with the same detail as the HP and Epson printers.
The Brother MFC-6890CDW offers automatic duplexing, but it can only produce doubled-sided A4 printouts. It has a comprehensive feature set, including integrated Wi-Fi and the ability to scan, copy and fax from the printer and over a network. It also offers user management and a large touch-screen panel. At 18.8c per A4 page its consumable costs than some of the other printers.
The Final Word
If you're after an all-in-one A3+ solution, Brother's MFC-6890CDW inkjet multifunction is the most versatile of the options in our round-up. The standalone printers from Epson, HP and Canon all have their merits — the HP Officejet 7000 Wide Format produces good colour output and offers networked printing while Epson's scaling option is a great feature. Canon's PIXMA iX7000 provides scaling options as well as Ethernet connectivity and automatic duplexing for A3 documents, but it is much more expensive than the Epson and HP printers. Overall we'd have to go with the Epson on this one; its scaling and consumable costs are simply too good to pass up.
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